previews

  • Josef Strau

    The Renaissance Society
    5811 South Ellis Avenue Cobb Hall, 4th floor
    September 21–November 9

    Curated by Solveig Øvstebø

    While running Galerie Meerrettich in Berlin from 2002 to 2008, the artist Josef Strau became interested in making again, distancing himself from what he retrospectively termed the “non-productive attitude” of the early-1990s Cologne scene. Yet motifs of bohemian life, laziness, hesitation, and struggles with productivity are written into Strau’s work quite literally, even if—glued to lampshades or on posters replete with typographic diversions—his diaristic stream of consciousness is difficult to read. When asked a few years back whether he still did lamps, Strau responded, “No, I still do texts.” Most authors can say a thing or two about the precarious economy of writing. In Strau’s case, the problem of not being able to “sell the pure text” proved astonishingly productive. His first institutional exhibition in the US presents new works around the literary motif of rewriting existing material. A publication of Strau’s own texts will be accompanied by a volume with contributions by fellow artists and an essay by Whitney Museum curator Jay Sanders.

  • Sarah Charlesworth, Patricia Cawlings, Los Angeles, 1980, gelatin silver print, 78 × 42". From the series “Stills,” 1980.

    “Sarah Charlesworth: Stills”

    The Art Institute of Chicago
    111 South Michigan Avenue
    September 18–January 4

    Curated by Matthew Witkovsky

    In 1980, when Sarah Charlesworth first showed her “Stills,” six-and-a-half-foot-high black-and-white photographs of falling figures, they seemed huge and out of place. Photography was then not widely shown in museums, and no one made big pictures. But Charlesworth, steeped in Pop art and Conceptualism, presciently grasped the visual seduction of photographs and the political impact of their circulation. For “Stills,” she appropriated Andy Warhol’s own 1964 copy of a found photograph of a man plummeting from a building. And digging into newspaper archives, she found dozens of similar images, which she then rephotographed. The complete series of fourteen panels is being shown for the first time, accompanied by a catalogue authored by Witkovsky. Though not the retrospective Charlesworth has so long deserved, this exhibition will serve to introduce new audiences to the late artist’s rigorous dissection of photography’s “decisive moment,” here understood as the medium’s always-frustrated attempt to stop time and to cheat death.

  • Anne Collier

    Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (MCA Chicago)
    220 East Chicago Avenue
    November 22–March 8

    Curated by Michael Darling

    Anne Collier’s photographs court frankly affective content: album covers showing a fragile Marilyn Monroe or a narcissistic Jean Marais in Cocteau’s Orphée; self-help cassettes containing advice about coping with anger, guilt, and despair; twin snapshots of azure ocean where her parents’ ashes were scattered. But Collier’s treatment of such artifacts is dead calm and distanced—a matter of flat planes, empty grounds, images rephotographed and repurposed to analytic ends. Her “Woman with a Camera” series, 2006–, depicts magazine photographs of celebrities (Faye Dunaway, Jacqueline Bisset) wielding chunky, phallic camera equipment. Much of Collier’s recent work adverts to predigital visual culture. For her first major solo exhibition, the artist will present some forty works from 2002 onward; the accompanying catalogue will include essays by Darling, Whitney curator Chrissie Iles, and novelist Kate Zambreno. Travels to the Aspen Art Museum, CO, Apr. 2–July 15, 2015; Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, Sept. 26, 2015–Jan. 10, 2016.